London ULEZ ‘penalises’ diesel drivers, says RAC

UK motoring services company and London Assembly both respond to confirmation of ULEZ in capital from 2020

UK motor services company RAC has criticised the London Mayor’s plans for an ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) in the centre of the capital from 2020 for ‘penalising’ motorists who have purchased diesel cars since 2006.

The Mayor, Boris Johnson, yesterday (March 26) confirmed his final plans to introduce the ULEZ on September 7 2020 (see story) following a public consultation on the plans earlier this year.

RAC believes the ULEZ plans unfairly penalise diesel drivers

RAC believes the ULEZ plans unfairly penalise diesel driverslondon

The ULEZ is designed to reduce air pollution from traffic in the city, and will operate 24 hours day, seven days a week using the Congestion Charge boundary. Vehicles will have to be at Euro 4 standard for petrol engines and Euro 6 standard for diesels or pay a daily charge of £12.50 to drive in the zone.

However, RAC believes ULEZ unfairly penalises diesel drivers who bought have bought their vehicles after 2006 “in the belief that they were making the right environmental choice at the time due to their vehicle’s low carbon dioxide emissions”.

This is because, RAC chief engineer David Bizley said in response to the Mayor’s ULEZ announcement yesterday, the previous generation of diesel vehicles “have not delivered all of the reduction in emissions of nitrogen dioxide and have not been as great as forecast” due to exhaust emissions test “have not reflected real world driving”.

He said: “The blame for this lies squarely on the shoulders of the scientists, engineers and officials responsible for the Euro standards and not the purchasers of Euro 4 and 5 diesel vehicles, who have bought these in good faith.”

Nevertheless, Mr Bizley conceded that TfL’s proposals for the ULEZ “are appropriate and balance the need to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions with the associated impact on individuals and businesses”.

Previously, UK motor industry association SMMT has called for a more “ambitious” ULEZ requiring petrol cars to also meet Euro 6 standards, like Euro 4 cars, in order to drive in the zone after 2020 (see story).

SMMT also this month launched a campaign aimed at combating the “demonisation of diesel” due to its impacts on air quality (see story).

London Assembly

The London Assembly’s Environment Committee also responded to the finalised ULEZ plans yesterday, welcoming the proposals and the Mayor’s confirmed extra support for introducing more zero emission capable taxis.

However, while chair of the Committee, Stephen Knight, described the ULEZ as a “step in the right direction”, he said the “challenge remains for the Mayor and more so, for his successor, to ensure that London achieves compliance with legal pollution limits, which currently we are in serious breach of”.

Lib Dem Assembly Member Mr Knight, commented: “The Mayor believes it to be acceptable for 80% of central London to achieve legal compliance by 2020, but the London Assembly Environment Committee urges the Mayor, boroughs and government to examine how the whole of London could achieve full compliance by 2020. The NO2 limits have been the law since 2010, and we need full compliance as soon as possible because every year that action is delayed, thousands of Londoners are dying.

“No doubt implementing the ULEZ successfully will require a significant amount of investment in terms of time and money, let’s make sure those resources are well spent. If we’re going to do this, let’s do it right.”


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